One Last Dig

Barring a miracle, the porcine juggernaut known as “The Stimulus” is going to become law, and with it around $100 billion in new education spending. At this point I can’t point to much more evidence than I already have to demonstrate how educationally worthless this will be, but I want to add a couple of bits just to make myself feel a little better.

First, for about the trillionth time, I’ve run into a statement suggesting that all that public schools ever see are funding cuts. The quote below is from an article in this morning’s Los Angeles Times about the windfall states are poised to get when the stimulus passes:

“It’s one of the most exciting things we’ve heard about in a long time,” said Chris Eftychiou, spokesman for the nearly 90,000-student Long Beach Unified School District, which stands to gain tens of millions of dollars over the next two years.

“Usually, it’s just cuts, not additional revenue.”

Come now, LBUSD! While I could only find data for current per-pupil expenditures (which do not include capital costs) going back to 1998-99, the district’s expenditure trend, shown in the chart below, has clearly been upward. (I adjusted for inflation the data found on this California Department of Education site for LBUSD. To access the original data, all you have to do is select the report “Financial Reports for District,” go to the “general fund” tab, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, hit the ”pop-trends” link, then select “$/student(ADA).” Simple!)

So where are these constant cuts?

Moving to higher education, the State Higher Education Executive Officers just released its FY 2008 state and local higher education funding numbers. Once again, they give the lie to the notion that public colleges perpetually face government budget axes and have to raise tuition just to make up the loss. As the chart below shows, inflation-adjusted state and local appropriations per full-time-equivalent student rose by $41 between FY 2007 and FY 2008, while tuition revenue grew by $57. Nonetheless, ivory tower denizens have been crying out for financial help, and they’ll get it – the House and Senate compromise bill appears to offer lots of cash for our “poor” ol’ public colleges.

You know what? Now I actually feel a little worse…